Why Can You Smell Everyone's Breath When You're Pregnant? An Expert Explains
To all the men out there: Have you ever sniffed your favorite food and reached for the closest garbage can? Unless you had the throw up flu, chances are likely that's a "no." But if you're a pregnant woman, then you know all about the phenomena that is elevated hormones, leading to mood swings, morning sickness, exhaustion, and, yes, a heightened sense of smell that might be gag-inducing. In fact, some moms-to-be may wonder, "Why can you smell everyone's breath when you're pregnant?" Gross, right? But it's not far-fetched. Experts say it's just another wonder of being with child.
"Welcome to pregnancy," Risa Klein, an OB-GYN nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife, tells Romper in an email interview. "Pregnancy creates an abundance of hormones, more than our body is used to metabolizing. Consequently, with the greater amount of hormones floating through a woman’s pregnant body, many report feeling queasy or sensitive to smells and foods that were once considered favorites, and even their own partner’s breath."
Klein explains that with balanced nutrition, pregnant women experience an increase of blood flow upwards of 50 percent, leading to a sensitive sniffer. Hormones are also to blame, which Klein says, while pregnant, circulate in your body in a way that's comparative to eating about 100 birth control pills.
Turns out, an increased sense of smell — also known as "pregnancy nose" — can lead women to notice smells that they wouldn't typically, bad breath included. According to Fit Pregnancy, it's all part of the bionic sense of taste, touch, and smell that comes with the pregnancy gig. What that means is that since being dead tired and hunched over a toilet obviously weren’t enough, hormones also have a way of jacking up your awareness of even the smallest things. So, a whiff of your co-worker's bad breath might send you into the same tailspin as a breeze that hits your armpit in just the right way and you think, "Is that me?”
If you are pregnant, Klein says one way you can help yourself throughout the process is to stick with the idea that "if you don’t like the smell of something, trust it — and trust your palate." That means eat the pickle if you are craving it, even if you've always hated pickles. Or just say no to your favorite chicken dinner because the sight of poultry, let alone the smell, makes you want to hurl.
And if it's your partner who is the bearer of offensive smells, then it's A-OK to ask them to take precautionary measures when they are around you. Hello, breath mints. Don't be surprised if you also just feel plain old irritated with your significant other when you're pregnant. "It's not just your symptoms or hormones that can cause you to feel upset with your partner," Dr. Judith M. Thorne, Doctor On Demand Psychologist, tells Romper in an email interview. According to Thorne, women may also experience feelings of frustration or resentment that their partner can eat without experiencing nausea and doesn’t have to pee every five minutes.
Um, yeah, duh.
I've said before and I will say it again: While I didn't feel particularly annoyed by my husband's breath when I was pregnant with our daughter, I did find pretty much every food he chewed to be the most skin crawling thing on the planet, particularly when I was overtired. On more than one occasion, I asked him to eat chips in another room and begged him to swallow water more quietly. Looking back, I'm sure I was insufferable at times. But guess what? I make zero apologies. Love you, honey.
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